The Castlegar and District Community Complex’s arena. File photo

The Castlegar and District Community Complex’s arena. File photo

LETTER: Do your research before June 23 referendum

Don’t rely on anyone’s opinion - including mine

It’s a Complex Issue!

Do we invest in an upgraded Castlegar and District Community Complex? Be clear, I am not writing this to tell people how to vote – I am asking them to be informed voters.

My initial reaction to upgrading – “No”! Higher taxes? Not for me!!” I felt I had not used the facility much over the years –why should I pay for it then? Looking back, I really had made more use of the facility than originally thought. I decided to ask questions.

Our area is growing – and new businesses are attracting even more interest. For leisure, we have the great outdoors – but we are a diversified population and some are unable to make full use of it due to physical limitations or challenges. Still others prefer organized sports/activities/ and social centers. We are fortunate we can appeal to so many!

Nearing retirement, we understand life has changed since we were young. Parents demand a safe and structured environment for their children. They want access to events, sports, and leisure activities year round. As retirees, we now will seek a place to focus on health and well-being.

Background: The Pioneer Arena is over 60 years old and is done. The complex (main building and ice arena) are 41 years old, and the aquatic centre is 28 years old. The Recreation Department has record of around 235,000 visits each year! Although serving us well to this point, our facilities not only require maintenance, they also require investment and upgrades to meet the needs of a growing region.

Once the Pioneer Arena is lost, all users of the ice facilities will be affected. Current ice usage is 1.5 rinks – so hockey, figure skating and public skating will be affected. We will lose the ability to host events and our community will be impacted by a loss of income. A second sheet at the Complex means maintenance services will be consolidated and tournaments will continue in a central location.

Baby Boomers are increasing in age. The proposed walking track will allow a safe area to walk in the cold of winter or the heat of the summer. An elevator to the second level gives access to those who are unable to climb stairs. An expanded social hub will provide room for our Seniors to meet and stay active – addressing both physical needs and providing a connection with others in the community. The improved aquatic centre and an expanded fitness room will also provide features and programs that maintain health and fitness.

Comparatives:

Adult Ski Pass = $1089 annually (5 months?)

Golf Pass = $ 1629 annually (7 months?)

Aquatic Centre = $490.04 annually (includes unlimited drop in access to pool, weight room, whirlpool, and fitness classes)

Facts: • Maximum borrowing: $22 million – which won’t happen until a minimum of $10.37 million in grants is secured. Federal and Provincial Grants are available. Interest rates are the lowest in decades.

• Taxation increases will not begin until the full amount of grants have been secured.

• Tax increase is $48.10 per $100,000 of home assessed value in Area J, parts of Area I, and the city of Castlegar. In other parts of Area I, the increase is $76.50 per $100,000 as they currently do not contribute to the operation of the Aquatic Centre. This would bring them up to the level of the other residents in the region.

• If a successful referendum, there is a six month time frame to finalize the proposed enhancements.

True, the Complex runs at a deficit. Public recreation is not cost neutral or a profitable service – if it was, it would be private facilities and user fees would go up. The public library and public transit are also services that are important yet massively subsidized. It is how we provide service to a broad spectrum of people.

Leaving things status quo is not an option. As a wise person once said – “If we are coasting we are going downhill!”

Members of our community faced this same issue in the past. Fortunately they had the foresight to see how a recreation facility would benefit our region. They contributed through their taxes and provided us with what we have today. Let’s look ahead and invest in our area for future generations.

Go to myactivityhub.ca. Ask questions from the official sources – do not rely on anyone’s opinion – including my own. Find out if the vision for the future of our area works for your family.

Alison Jollimore,

Castlegar